Thursday, October 9, 2008

Gig review: Ting Tings in London

The audience wants the shouty ones.

When the Ting Tings' Katie White (that is actually her name) does her screechy war cry and Jules De Martino pounds away on his drums, everyone at the Shepherd's Bush Empire is happy.

But when the band attempt a stripped back version of Traffic Light - the closest thing they have to a ballad - the crowd's enthusiasm drops with the tempo.

It all ends in a heart-stoppingly awful moment when, during a "dramatic" pause, the band discover that the audience are just talking amongst themselves. For those of us paying attention, there was the pitiful sight of Jules and Katie standing uselessly at opposite ends of the stage, looking for all the world like the unwanted chess club nerds at a teenage house party.

And this is wrong, because the Ting Tings are cool; the acceptable face of pop. We know this because the NME told us so.

The problem here is that the holier-than-thou NME crowd have now turned up for the gig, all black denim and feigned ennui. They're determined not to be impressed, no matter how much effort the Ting Tings put in.

But the band only have themselves to blame as long as they try to be pop's answer to the White Stripes. Katie, clad in disastrous forest green Robin Hood leggings, should be jumping around the stage like a mad bag of eels, not proving her indie credibility with a neverending parade of expensive guitars she can barely play.

When the singer stops posing and lets rip on Shut Up And Let Me Go - clambering on top of the monitors; spanking her microphone stand; thumping a big bass drum - she has the crowd in the palm of her hand, momentarily forgetting they're supposed to be above this sort of thing. The fulsome cry of "hey!" that ends the song shakes the tiny venue's rafters.

Other highlights include a strident We Walk (no pun intended), the always-rousing Great DJ and a surprisingly ballsy rendition of current single Be The One.

But then, suddenly, it's all over. The Ting Tings have played all 10 songs from their debut album and scarpered - after less than an hour on stage. Which is a bit of a rip-off for £16.50. Even more so when we know they have a few cracking cover versions up their sleeves (Altered Images' Happy Birthday and the SOS Band's Just Be Good To Me to name just two).

The band have just announced they're recording new material next year. Let's hope that, next time they head out on the road, they ditch the lo-fi indie aesthetic, hire a proper band and play a few more songs.

The shouty ones go down best, apparently.

[Photos from various gigs, taken from Flickr courtesy of (1&2) Shirlaine, (3) RedMar and (4) Tractor Boy. Thank you!]

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